Links between land cover change and health inequities in Central Appalachia

Authors: Korine Kolivras*, Virginia Tech, Leigh-Anne Krometis, Virginia Tech, Julia Gohlke, Virginia Tech, Emily Satterwhite, Virginia Tech, Susan West Marmagas, Virginia Tech, Linsey C. Marr, Virginia Tech
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Human-Environment Geography, Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: health geography, medical geography, environment, surface mining
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Health inequities exist in Central Appalachia in comparison to the rest of the United States; for example, the region has higher total age-adjusted mortality and greater mortality from several cancers and heart disease than the rest of the nation. Behavioral risk factors, such as obesity and smoking, do not fully explain those inequities, and therefore we suggest that factors related to land cover change in the region could play a role, as such changes can impact air and water quality. Much research on land cover change in Central Appalachia, particularly changes due to surface mining, has identified fine-scale ecological health impacts, but little research has examined the impact of those changes on human health. The research that has been conducted has explored the relationship between coal mining and human health at the county-scale rather than local scale, which does not allow for measurement of personal exposure. Those studies indicate that mining does impact human health even after controlling for sociodemographic variables, and this work has identified research needs related to health impacts of land cover change on air and water quality at the local scale. Our interdisciplinary research team has built an initiative to examine and address these health inequities through integrated research, education, and community outreach efforts.

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